I'm really not a fan of kid's menus. Have you ever noticed how they always have the same five things on them? It's a rare restaurant that doesn't feature some kind of combination that includes chicken fingers, mac and cheese, pizza, hot dog and hamburger. Oh, wait, I forgot grilled cheese and that godforsaken endless side of French fries. Those are all there too. I know kids are creatures of habit but, honestly, do we not want to have something a little adventurous? I mean, at least for the sake of the moms. I swear I'd be 5 to 10 lbs lighter if I didn't have to finish the fries on Scarlett's plate or make that other half of grilled cheese go away when we dine out. I think it has a lot to do with how I was raised. I grew up in a household that preached finishing everything on your plate. Plus, as an adult who witnesses the ongoing wastefulness of children (ever have to throw out a whole roll of toilet paper because it was unwound and waterlogged?), I just can't, in good conscience, let gobs of food go to waste. So I eat it–One fry at a time finding home on the pillowy cushion of skin above my bra strap. Damn back fat! And damn those crappy kid's menus! Most restaurants are now just French fry pushers to me.
Why can't restaurants come up with something like these asparagus fries? With all their fancy mandolins and sous chefs, they could easily cart out sides that are more healthy and fun. They don't even have to bake them like me. They can plunge them in their fancy fry-0-lator filled with 350 degree oil. At least when I was finishing up the plate it would be with something green, not a big ol' sliced white potato. Ok, sometimes we order the sweet potato fries.
Crunchy Asparagus Fries
1 bunch of fresh organic asparagus, cleaned and ends snapped off
1/2 cup spelt flour
1/4 cup panko
1/2 cup parmesan cheese
1/2 cup multi-grain bread crumbs
1 teaspoon ground garlic
salt and pepper to taste
1 teaspoon olive oil
Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray and set aside. Preheat the oven to 375.
Snap the ends off the asparagus and then wash and lightly pat it dry with a paper towel. Set aside.
Place spelt flour on a plate. In a wide, shallow bowl, whisk the eggs with a fork. Then mix your panko, parmesan cheese, bread crumbs and garlic in another wide, shallow bowl. Now you've got your dredging station ready. Taking three or four stalks of asparagus at a time, coat them in flour, then drop them in the egg. Finally, roll them in the panko mixture and place them on the prepared baking sheet, leaving a bit of space between them. Repeat until you've finished the entire bunch of asparagus. Sprinkle the whole lot with salt and pepper.
Pop the baking sheet in the oven and bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the breading is golden brown and crisp.
I made a dipping sauce using yogurt, honey and fresh chives but you could basically use any side sauce you fancy. Hey, it could even be ketchup and then you'll really feel like finishing off that plate of fries.